For Immediate Release, June 6, 2013
Contact: Justin Augustine, (415) 436-9682 x 302
Landmark Lawsuit Re-filed Against EPA to Protect Dozens of Endangered Species From Pesticides
SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America have filed an amended complaint in their ongoing efforts to protect the nation’s most vulnerable wildlife from toxic pesticides. For two decades now the Environmental Protection Agency has routinely sidestepped its obligations under the Endangered Species Act. This case would require the EPA to consult with federal wildlife agencies to create measures that would protect numerous endangered and threatened species from pesticides already known to be toxic to wildlife.
“For decades the EPA has ignored the disastrous effects pesticides can have on endangered species,” said Justin Augustine, an attorney at the Center. “We’re doing everything we can to force EPA to follow the law and ensure that harmful chemicals don’t get into the habitats of the nation’s most vulnerable wildlife.”
In April a federal district court in San Francisco issued an order dismissing the lawsuit but allowing the environmental groups to amend and re-file their legal complaint. The amended complaint filed yesterday responds to the procedural issues raised in the court’s order. The lawsuit seeks protection for endangered and threatened species throughout the United States, including Florida panthers, California condors, piping plovers, black-footed ferrets, arroyo toads, Indiana bats, bonytail chub and Alabama sturgeon. Documents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the EPA, as well as peer-reviewed scientific studies, indicate that these species are harmed by the pesticides at issue.
“We hope to finally end the EPA’s longstanding failure to protect endangered wildlife,” said Augustine. “The agency’s program for approving pesticides is broken.”
In April a committee of the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council released a report outlining numerous problems with the EPA’s oversight of dangerous pesticides that are hurting endangered species across the country. The report was prompted in part by the Center’s pesticide cases.
More than a billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the United States, and the EPA has approved, or “registered,” more than 18,000 different pesticides for use. There is evidence of widespread contamination of groundwater, drinking water and wildlife habitats throughout the country.
For decades the EPA has registered pesticides without input from expert federal agencies to evaluate harmful impacts to wildlife, failing to initiate formal consultations required under the Endangered Species Act. The consultation process can result in restrictions on some of the most harmful pesticide uses while identifying viable alternatives. For particularly harmful pesticides, the EPA or registrant may choose to take the product off the market.
Certain childhood cancers, birth defects, neurodevelopmental disorders and a host of other human-health harms linked to environmental chemical exposures are all on the rise. Meanwhile species are dying off at more than 1,000 times the normal background rate, and pollinators and other indicator species susceptible to pesticides, such as amphibians, are suffering dramatic declines.
Litigation from the Center has forced the EPA to begin consultation with the two federal wildlife agencies on pesticides risks to some endangered species, including the California red-legged frog, San Joaquin kit fox and Bay checkerspot butterfly.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 500,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.